If you sustained injuries when you slipped and fell on someone else’s property, you know how debilitating such injuries can be. What you may not know, however, is that these types of accidents are all too common. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, US emergency rooms treated over 8 million people for fall-related accidents in 2019, and 39,433 of these people died.
In Connecticut, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for residents 65 years old and older, and the fourth leading cause of death for residents of all ages.
Fortunately, you can obtain compensation for your injuries under Connecticut’s premises liability laws. A subset of the personal injury laws, premises liability refers to the injuries that happen, including slip and fall injuries, when property owners or managers neglect to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. Premises liability laws apply to all property owners, including the following:
Where Slips and Falls Occur
A slip and fall accident can occur either indoors or outdoors. Common causes of indoor slip and fall accidents include the following:
- Wet or otherwise slippery floors
- Insufficiently lighted stairwells
- Lack of adequate handrails on stairs
- Obstacles or debris in hallways or aisles
- Loose carpeting or flooring
Common causes of outdoor slip and fall accidents include the following:
- Icy or snowy sidewalks, steps, driveways or parking lots
- Uneven, broken or disintegrating surfaces
- Oil slicks
- Wires or other debris on the ground
- Lack of fencing surrounding swimming pools
- Unlocked gates in fences surrounding swimming pools
Slip and Fall Injury Types
Slips and falls can result in very serious injuries, including the following types:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Sprains and strains
Negligence at a Glance
Most premises liability cases are grounded in negligence. Your lawsuit does not claim that the property owner deliberately hurt you, but rather that he or she did something or failed to do something that resulted in your slip and fall accident. Usually this means that a dangerous condition existed on the property, that the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the condition, that he or she nevertheless allowed the condition to continue and that he or she failed to warn you about it.
With regard to winter slips and falls where you fall on snow or ice, however, you need to be aware that Connecticut follows the ongoing storm doctrine that relieves a property owner or manager of the responsibility of removing snow or ice for a reasonable amount of time after a storm ends.
Statute of Limitations
In Connecticut, you have two years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a lawsuit against the party at fault. In most cases, this will be the owner of the property. However, in some cases, it may be someone else. For instance, if you fell at an apartment complex and a property manager or management company maintains the property for the owner, then you would sue that individual or entity, possibly in addition to the owner.
In addition to determining who to sue, you also need to take into consideration why you were on the property. Usually, you were an invitee, meaning that you were a social guest in someone’s home or a member of the public “invited” to, for instance, shop in a store, eat in a restaurant, visit a doctor’s or dentist’s office, etc.
If, however, you trespassed on the property, i.e., entered it without the owner’s specific or implied permission, he or she has no obligation to you other than to not intentionally cause you harm.
Elements of Proof
To win your slip and fall case, you must prove the following:
- That the property owner or manager owed you a duty of care
- That he or she breached this duty by allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the property which he or she failed to fix and about which he or she failed to warn you
- That he or she knew or should have known that the condition existed
- That as a result of his or her breach, you suffered injuries for which you are entitled to collect compensable damages
Types of Damages
Your compensable damages fall into two categories: economic and noneconomic.
Your economic damages consist of those things, such as the following, for which you likely have bills:
- Ambulance transport
- Emergency room assessment and treatment
- Diagnostic tests
- Hospital care and treatment
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Follow-up doctors’ appointments
- Prescription drugs
- Necessary equipment, like for crutches, a wheelchair, etc.
Keep in mind that your economic damages include not only your expenses to date, but also those you can reasonably expect to encounter in the future. They likewise include your current and future loss of income resulting from your accident.
Your noneconomic damages consist of your more subjective losses, including such things as the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish and distress
- Loss of consortium with your spouse or partner
- Disfiguring scars
- Loss of a limb
- Necessity of using a wheelchair or prosthesis in order to get around
- Loss of your ability to fully participate in the activities you did prior to your injuries
- Loss of your overall quality of life
Connecticut is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that, if you win your lawsuit, you can collect damages from the defendants even though the jury finds that your own negligence contributed to your own accident. Nevertheless, your negligence must be less than 51% of that of all the defendants combined.
Need for Legal Assistance
Given the numerous aspects and possible complications of a slip and fall case, your wisest course of action consists of contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. At Gould Injury Law, we’re dedicated to helping Connecticut slip and fall victims obtain the maximum amount of compensation. Contact us today. It costs you nothing to see how we can help you.